This review contains spoilers.
3.4 The Queen’s Diamonds
So far, the opening three episodes of this series have been good and at times, great, television. This year’s run had yet to really put a foot wrong with all the themes and plot machinations seemingly leading us to an explosive finale. Then The Queens Diamonds comes along. And that, to be frank, is all a bit of a mess.
Written by Jeff Povey (who has a good catalogue of staple British shows to his name, including Midsomer Murders), he tells us the story of the Queen of England’s missing gems, a bit of Aramis backstory as well as an expansion on Sylvie’s treasonous meetings and her developing relationship with Athos. That looks a lot, even on paper and it’s unfortunate that the episode suffers just as you would expect – an overstuffed hour that is tonally all over the place and has little to no consequence for the season. Yep, it really is a bit of a mess.
That’s not to say that it was completely without promise. The heist of the Queen’s gems could have made for a somewhat thrilling mystery, and although the reveal of the great James Callis’ Bonnaire was a little disappointing so early on, he’s such a refreshing character that you don’t really mind. In fact, I’d go as far to say that he’s easily the best and only good thing this week.
Strung throughout this main plot (which it is, but only barely), you finally get more of an idea of what Sylvie has been up to. You got hints of it last week, but now it’s revealed that she’s sowing the seeds of discontent with the disenfranchised of Paris or, plain and simple treason by any other measure (or at least the ones that count in this story). I liked the introduction of Sylvie, and now that marriage bliss has settled on Mr & Mrs d’Artagnan I suppose the series had to invoke another love interest for at least one of the Musketeers. To tell the truth, I still like her as a character – I thinks she’s the personification of the audience and their perception of discontent the Musketeers have for serving a King who’s the antithesis of the ‘great leader’, In other words we like her because she’s the one who see’s sense in a backward and dysfunctional world. However, what a waste, what an absolute waste. This was a big plot point, especially when you throw in Athos’ burgeoning love or if not that deep, then at least wild infatuation with a person that represents the embodiment of everything that goes against his service. So yeah, huge. But, but we get hardly anything at all and yes, okay, the seeds are sown for Grimauld to spill the beans later which will no doubt lead to tragedy and much grumbling but – as you can tell – I was very disappointed to see this as a side offering this week.
Likewise, Pauline and Aramis. This was, by far, the weakest thing about the episode. It added very little colouring to Aramis’s background and just got in the way of the other plot points that deserved far more attention. The convergence of story lines at the end just seemed very on-the-nose and forced. Also the tragedy of Pauline’s ending further mixed the tone of an episode that was all over the place. When you’ve got someone like Callis having a ball with his Bonnaire, surely the best thing is to go ‘all in’…
I mentioned at the beginning that this week had no real consequence, which may be a little harsh. The Sylvie and Athos elements will play big in the weeks to come but everything else didn’t really add much to a series that only has six episodes left before the whole thing is wrapped up. I’m going to make a poor comparison, but make it I will because it gets my point across. Games Of Thrones has the same season length as The Musketeers and yet look what happens in a single season in that compared to The Musketeers. That’s because of the economy of effort when it comes to telling the story, every scene has a purpose and momentum towards something else. Good writing like that not only has consequence but it also draws the audience in and commands them to pay attention. The Musketeers is at times frivolous with the time it spends with the audience. You may consider that harsh for one bad episode in four, but that’s what happens when the general standard is pretty high.
A mess of an episode then, with a few – very few – bright moments. Oh – and Milady watch continues… she must return soon! Next week marks the half way point, which based on the past few episodes must mean we’re overdue for a time slot change – over to you BBC.